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Quick & Easy Meal Ideas for Toddlers

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Coming up with new meal ideas for toddlers and preschoolers can be a challenge.

You want the food to be healthy, for sure, but also easy to get on the table fast.

Because when little tummies are hungry, they want their food NOW.

Here are some super simple meals your kiddos will love to eat!

Related: How to Get Toddlers to Eat Veggies Willingly

Breakfast ideas for toddlers

Listen, on weekday mornings, you don’t have to hassle with making Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes or from scratch blueberry muffins to serve something your child will eat up fast.

Here are some breakfast meals toddlers will like almost as much:

Whole grain waffle with various toppings

I put a dab of butter on and then instead of jam, I spread baby-food fruit or applesauce on the waffle. You can also go with peanut butter and jelly, or smear yogurt on top.

Fancy toast

Skip butter and jam in favor of spreading mashed avocado on top of a piece of whole-grain toast.

You can also mash banana and spread that over toast along with some peanut butter for healthy fat and protein.

Another option? A whole-grain English muffin with cream cheese and a side of fruit.

Anything with blueberries in it

My kids like yogurt with blueberries in it and a slice of toast. You can also put blueberries in oatmeal, too, and make a game of finding (and eating) the berries in the cereal.

Eggs and toast

Scrambled eggs are great, but fried eggs are faster to make.

A favorite of ours is an over easy fried egg on top of a piece of buttered toast. Serve with a side of fruit.

Leftover weekend treats

Make banana bread or pancakes on the weekend and save some to use during the week (freeze pancakes to use over multiple weeks).

I spread a bit of butter on it (and real maple syrup for pancakes) and serve it with a side of fruit.

Granola bars

When mornings get hectic and you just need to get out the door, having a stash of soft granola bars can be a lifesaver.

Your kids can eat them in the car to get something in their bellies.

Quick list: Breakfast ideas for toddlers

  • Whole grain waffle with various toppings: butter and pureed fruit, applesauce, peanut butter and jelly, or yogurt
  • Homemade banana bread with some butter on it, or pancakes, and a side of fruit
  • Whole grain toast spread with smashed avocado, or mashed banana and peanut butter
  • Yogurt with blueberries in it and a slice of toast
  • Oatmeal with blueberries
  • Eggs (scrambled or fried) with toast and a side of fruit
  • English muffin with cream cheese and a side of fruit
  • Soft granola bars

Toddler meal ideas for lunch or dinner

Finding healthy, savory foods your child loves to eat is typically more difficult than serving foods that are sweet.

But it’s really important for children to develop a taste for savory foods at a young age (this post explains why).

Try foods that are softer and not too spicy.

Here are the quick dishes that my kids devour:

Meatballs or sausage

Many parents find their toddlers aren’t into eating much meat. My kids shy away from chicken breasts, steak, or pork.

But I’ve found that they’ll eat meatballs or sausage. I buy or make chicken or turkey meatballs or sausage and serve it with a side of veggies and a slice of bread and butter.

Vegetarian options

Hummus on a slice of bread with a side of veggies is a go-to for my youngest.

And pasta is always a win too, especially with either marinara sauce or a little butter or olive oil, parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of garlic powder and garlic salt.

Serve with a side of veggies like steamed broccoli, cauliflower or zucchini (you can make this ahead of time so it’s ready in the fridge) or try no-salt-added peas, corn, or green beans.

Burritos

Whether it’s a breakfast burrito – scrambled eggs and cheese – or a simple refried beans and cheese combo, older toddlers seem to love anything that comes wrapped up in a burrito.

Quick list: Lunch or dinner ideas for toddlers

  • Chicken or turkey meatballs or sausage with a side of veggies and a slice of bread with butter
  • Hummus on a slice of bread with a side of veggies
  • Pasta with butter, parmesan cheese, a sprinkle of garlic powder and salt and a side of veggies
  • Pasta with marinara sauce and side of veggies
  • Refried bean and cheese burritos or breakfast burritos for older toddlers
  • Any leftovers from our adult dinner the night before that aren’t too spiced and are relatively soft to chew

Snack ideas for toddlers

Kids are master snackers. As soon as you finish a meal and clean up, they’re asking for something to eat again.

Keep these items on hand so you’ll always have something quick and healthy to hand your child:

  • Thin slices of apple with a side of “dip” (the dip is actually yogurt!)
  • Dry cereal
  • Cracker “sandwiches” made by putting some spreadable cheese in between two crackers, served with a side of fruit
  • Bananas
  • Cheese sticks
  • Soft breakfast bars
  • Animal crackers or graham crackers
  • Yogurt
  • Crackers or whole grain type tortilla chips with hummus (for older toddlers)

When you’re short on time or energy, putting together toddler meals doesn’t have to be involved.

You can stock your fridge and pantry with many of the items in the meal ideas above and be ready whenever hunger strikes.

(When you have more time and want to cook from-scratch meals the entire family can enjoy, I recommend Weelicious: 140 Fast, Fresh, and Easy Recipes. My family especially likes the recipes for homemade meatballs, marinara, chicken and wild rice casserole, taquitos for older kids and avocado dipping sauce.)

quick and easy toddler meal ideas

Rachel

Monday 8th of September 2014

My lo like ice and anything frozen. I use a Ninja chopper to make a bowl of "ice" from steamed/pureed vegetables that have been frozen in ice cube trays (stored in ziplocks once frozen). Amazingly she loves it! I use the cubes in all kinds of things to hide veggies. Pureed cauliflower is almost lost in applesauce. Since they are pureed they can be added to almost anything and they are smoothie ready as well. We juice and make homemade ice pops from the juice. Thanks for all the great hints - love the peanut sauce with tahini (I used Braggs aminos instead-delicious).

Trisha

Saturday 4th of May 2013

So many great ideas! I have such a hard time getting Peter, my 13 month old to eat veggies. He is also wicked picky! I can't wait to try some of these ideas! I'm sure he is going to love the smoothies with hidden veggies!

Deb

Wednesday 13th of March 2013

My son is a picky eater so I go a little over board trying new things. He LOVES squeezable kefir. Won't touch yogurt. Tried making quesadillas tonight with him pulsing zucchini, eggplant and a little onion in the bullet and then spreading in quesadilla with lots of cheese. He was so excited but when we sat down wouldn't touch it. Anything like pancakes breads grilled sandwiches made with cookie cutter shapes are a hit...except the quesadilla! He eats potato crusted fish and chicken nuggets and a lot of different fruit. Will also eat brown rice and quinoa mixed together with done garlic. Dosas, naan, dried veggie chips, and any kind of cheese. Mini bagels, smoothies, pretzels..dried fruit as well.

I try a ton of new things but progress with new foods is slow! Breakfast is easy...waffles, pancakes, cereal, kefir, fruit. He's the only kid I know that wont eat pizza or ice cream!

Kiralyn

Friday 22nd of March 2013

Deb, thanks for sharing your food ideas. Where do you get squeezable kefir?

Megan

Tuesday 19th of February 2013

So happy I found this off pinterest! So far my 13 month old daughter is a good eater but it's great to have reminders of different food choices. Brooke is big on honey wheat banana waffles, peanut butter toast with yogurt as a dipping sauce, broccoli, strawberries and bananas, avocado, oatmeal...just to name a few. :-)

Kiralyn

Tuesday 19th of February 2013

Welcome to Mommy Crib Notes Megan!

Amanda

Friday 1st of February 2013

thats a looottt of butter yogurt, try including milk to cut down that fat from the yogurt. Thats a lot of fat in a daily diet. try including other fats such as nuts.

Kiralyn

Friday 1st of February 2013

Just to add what you said Amanda, I don't think you should feed young children nuts until you feel that they are able to do so without it being a choking hazard. But I agree that nuts are a great source of carbs, protein and fat plus minerals. However, I would rather my kids drink less milk and eat yogurt more frequently because not only does it have the calcium of milk but it also offers probiotics which are essential for good digestion. Plus, my girls LOVE yogurt. :)